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Hosting the Women's European Football Championships in 2017 should be Scotland's goal

Scotland is fast becoming the place to be for world-class sporting events.

ALL CHANGE: One player with aspirations to play for Scotland at the 2017 European Championships, wherever they end up being held, is Fiona Brown who has joined Glasgow City after 'four amazing years at Celtic'. Eddie Wolecki Black, Glasgow's head coach, said: 'Fiona will add a lot of width to our play, she brings great quality, pace, intensity and a great attitude and I am certain she will flourish in her new environment.' Picture: SNS
ALL CHANGE: One player with aspirations to play for Scotland at the 2017 European Championships, wherever they end up being held, is Fiona Brown who has joined Glasgow City after 'four amazing years at Celtic'. Eddie Wolecki Black, Glasgow's head coach, said: 'Fiona will add a lot of width to our play, she brings great quality, pace, intensity and a great attitude and I am certain she will flourish in her new environment.' Picture: SNS

Next year, the jewels in the crown will, of course, be Glasgow 2014 and the Ryder Cup, but this small nation is slowly but surely building up an impressive portfolio of events on its shores in the coming years.

In addition to the big showpiece competitions next year, Scotland will stage a mountain biking World Cup while, in 2015, the World Gymnastic Championships and European Swimming Championships will come here. There is the prospect of a Diamond League athletics meeting prior to the Commonwealth Games and a plethora of other national and international competitions.

The Scottish government has talked about making Scotland a global player when it comes to hosting major sports competitions as well as cultural events, and it seems to be on track, at least for the moment.

The importance of a legacy in the aftermath of major sporting events has been debated long and hard, with the general consensus being that staging sports competitions leaves little, if anything, in terms of long-term benefits. Hosting an event will not, by itself, magically kick-start an auspicious sporting future. Despite the poor legacy track record, though, the fact that there is far more focus on it these days means that it should not be automatically assumed that no long-term benefit can materialise.

One event in particular for which I would greatly support a bid from Scotland is the Women's European Football Championships. These will next be staged in 2017 and Scotland is one of seven nations, including France and the Netherlands, to have expressed an interest in hosting the tournament.

UEFA will provide all interested associations with the bidding requirements in February - the Scottish Football Association will then announce if they are to submit a formal bid with the final decision being made next December.

While the requirements are, as yet, unspecified, Scotland is likely to have sufficient infrastructure and resources which would allow it to host such an event.

Of all the sporting occasions that Scotland will hold in the next decade, a women's football championships could be the most significant. The SFA have indicated an interest in Glasgow becoming one of the host cities for the men's Euro 2020 Championships, but priority should be given to the bid for the women's championship. Hosting part of the men's event would, no doubt, provide benefits in terms of a lift in national pride and, possibly, a short-term spike in people playing football but, other than these, the positives are likely to be limited. Contrastingly, hosting the women's championship in 2017 could have tangible, lasting benefits for women's football and women's sport in general this country.

Women's football is Scotland's fastest growing sport and former First Minister Henry McLeish, who published the Review of Scottish Football in 2010 which gave recommendations on how to improve the future of football in Scotland, is hugely supportive of the possibility of hosting Euro 2017.

"It would be in our national interest to consider hosting the event," he said. "It would be a huge boost at the current stage of the women's game, and with girls football on the rise, there would be no better way to acknowledge this than to host a good tournament."

The Scotland women's team are ranked 11th in Europe and 20th in the world, eclipsing the men's positions, and only failed to qualify for this year's European Championships, when Spain scored in injury time at the end of extra time in the second leg of a play-off.

While the perception of women's football is changing, particularly within sporting circles, there is still an inherent misogyny which pervades much of the public's attitude towards women's football. These outdated views are born out of ignorance and misinformation and hosting a major women's tournament could do much to change this.

Kim Little, from near Aberdeen, is one of Britain's best female footballers, yet is fairly anonymous to the public. Promoting athletes such as Little could attract countless young girls towards the sport.

The SFA agree that the impact of hosting Euro 2017 could, potentially, be the tipping point in terms of media and public interest and the subsequent benefits of this could be astronomical. The most worrying statistics when it comes to sports participation in Scotland are for young girls, so for these kids to see elite women footballers on their doorstep could help to debunk many of the myths which surround the sport. It could make a mark on a generation of schoolchildren which few government strategies can hope to rival.

It remains to be seen whether a formal SFA bid materialises. This year's European Women's Championship in Sweden was the most successful to date, with more than 40,000 fans watching the final.

Think of the potential benefits if Scotland could match this. It may be ambitious, but it is possible.

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